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Washington Hotel Remains Closed After Weekend Blasts

July 29, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The 1,154-room Washington Hilton will be closed to guests for several days while investigators probe the area around a basement transformer where two explosions occurred over the weekend, hotel officials said Monday.

An electrician was listed in good condition Monday after sustaining first- degree burns on his face in the second explosion. Ten others were taken to area hospitals for smoke inhalation, but none was seriously injured.

″The Washington Hilton will be closed for the next several days,″ said Hilton general manager William H. Edwards Jr. in a prepared statement.

″Investigations are now under way to determine the reason for the two switchboard explosions. The cause is not yet known,″ he said.

The 12-story hotel in northwest Washington was the scene four years ago of the attempt on President Reagan’s life by gunman John Hinckley Jr. It is the site of many major conventions in the city.

Only employees and electricians were in the building when the explosion occurred Sunday. The 3,800 guests had been evacuated after a similar fire the previous day.

Most of guests were participants of a Youth Congress ’85 convention, and were transferred to other hotels.

Sunday’s blast occurred around noon as workers were reconnecting power to a transformer in the hotel basement. The equipment blew up, sending out clouds of smoke. The blast was similar to one on Saturday, officials said.

Firefighters said toxic fumes from burning polyvinyl chloride in electrical wiring spread throughout the basement area of the hotel. But the blaze did not spread upstairs or threaten room contents, said Renee Subrin, hotel director of public affairs.

Edwards said the cost of the accidents has not been tabulated but it ″may be as high as several million dollars.″